As organisations begin to resume travel, the profile of the average business trip is changing. Where once it was quick overnighters, it’s now longer, less frequent stays that are proving popular. What lies behind this trend?
Think of business travel, and there are a few things that typically come to mind.
The slightly frenetic traveller running to catch their third flight of the week. Overnight stays, with hardly a chance to unpack. The perpetual sense of being in the wrong time zone.
But, it seems, all that could be in the past.
A new trend is emerging as business travel slowly resumes amid COVID-19: the longer and less frequent trip.
Speaking at an international travel conference last month, one buyer said their own company was already looking both at cutting back on trips and discouraging short, overnight stays. “If you have to travel, go for longer,” was the message to business travellers.
It’s a view being adopted across the industry, many experts believe, with three to four-night stays driving much of the current growth in the sector.
Serviced accommodation is ideally poised to respond too. Not only does it specialise in a ‘home-away-from-home’ feel (perfect for longer stays) with all the space, self-catering facilities and comfort a traveller requires, but its inherent pricing structure and agility is set up to provide cost-effectiveness when it comes longer trips.
But what are the advantages for both travellers, and travel managers, of longer stays?
Never has safety been higher on the agenda for both travellers, and travel managers – and there all sorts of ways that longer stays, in a single place of accommodation can help.
With a longer stay in one place – rather than several, transient ones – travel managers have more opportunity to vet health and hygiene protocols, liaise with accommodation providers and put together the sort of granular information that anxious travellers require.
There’s also the simple matter of logistics. Longer stays mean less moving around. That minimises the extent to which travellers need to take public transport or come into contact with other people on their journey.
Traveller wellbeing isn’t a concern that has only arisen since COVID-19, but there’s no doubt the pandemic has pushed it front of mind for travel managers.
With longer stays, travellers can begin to feel settled, in more familiar surroundings, rather than rushing frantically from one place to the next.
They can also build up a sense of autonomy within a space – getting to know where things are, how they work, and who to contact with any problems.
Longer, less frequent trips clearly deliver savings when it comes to transport and administration. But there are also ways in which travel managers can utilise longer stays to make significant savings on accommodation.
In serviced accommodation, for example, operators are nearly always open to a digressive pricing model – i.e. the longer you stay, the cheaper the nightly cost. By consolidating the time spent in a particular location and negotiating directly with an operator for a discount, travel managers can find longer trips an effective way to manage with stripped back travel budgets.
Consolidating travel with longer stays is a great way to reduce environmental impact –a KPI that travel managers increasingly find themselves having to navigate.
Even where travellers are in a location for just as long, encouraging longer, less frequent stays cut down on one of the biggest culprits when it comes to carbon emissions – the transport.